Taking Rilke's classic correspondence as inspiration, five leading poets write a personal letter to a young poet. Today, to coincide with the announcement of the T S Eliot Prize, shortlisted poet Michael Symmons Roberts writes a letter about poetry that dares the depths.
The original Letters to a Young Poet is a compilation of letters by Rainer Maria Rilke, written between 1902 and 1908 to a 19-year-old officer cadet called Franz Kappus. Kappus was trying to choose between a literary career and entering the Austro-Hungarian army. Rilke's letters touch on poetry and criticism, but they range widely in subject matter from atheism and loneliness, to friendship and sexuality:
"If your everyday life seems to lack material, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; for there is no lack for him who creates and no poor, trivial place."
In their new letters, five poets imagine a young poet protégé to whom they want to pass on life experience and thoughts about the poetic art.
Our poets are: Michael Symmons Roberts, Vicki Feaver, Michael Longley, Moniza Alvi and Don Paterson.
About Michael Symmons Roberts: Roberts's latest collection Drysalter (Cape 2013) won the 2013 Forward Prize and is on the shortlist for both the T S Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Award. He is a leading poet, librettist, novelist, radio dramatist and broadcaster. Previous collections include The Half-Healed, Corpus and Burning Babylon.
First broadcast in January 2014.